Peach Blossom Spring

April 13, 2018

                        The prefect immediately dispatched officers to go back

                        with the fisherman. He hunted for the marks he had made,

                        but grew confused and never found the way again.

                                                From “Peach Blossom Spring” by Tao Qian


The hand

that returns the chick

to the nest

is called

the machete hand

in a language

spoken only

by a handful

of old people

who live deep

in the forest

in a place

visited only

by poachers

and anthropologists

in a village

where the old

women always

get their way

and the rare

visitors who find

their way through

the thick bush

sleep in tents

made of snake

skins stitched together

where time stands still

because it has

nowhere to bed down

and prayers

are smoked

in the open air

along with the flesh

of a certain freshwater

fish that serves

as currency

between the villagers

and the even older

people who live

in another village


whose language

is known only

in the half-forgotten songs

of the people

of the first village

and in myths

lost to nostalgia

to the smoke

of the festival fires

and to the gnarled hands

of the soothsayer

as she raises

the feathers

of an extinct

flightless bird

to her forehead

as if to perturb

the certainty of blossoms.


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